Children as young as eight months of age learn that their toys, bottles, rattles, are theirs and not to be shared. As they get between one and two years, they become very possessive over their belongings. This natural event requires some teaching on the part of the parents. Children initially do not like to share because they do not understand the concept of sharing. In their minds, those “other children” are going to take their prized possessions, never to be seen again. As adults, we know that is not the case but the children are too young to know that.
Let us say you and a friend are sitting down, having a conversation and your two-year old and your friend’s two-year old are quietly playing. Everything is calm and under control, or so you thought. Just as you start to take a sip of coffee, you hear total chaos taking place. As you and your friend run to see what is going on, there in the middle of the two children being pulled by its arms is one of your daughter’s favorite dolls. She wants it back but the other child is determined she is going to commandeer it. Carefully pulling the children apart, you are able to salvage the doll. Have you been through this before? Most new parents have.
What can parents do to teach their children that sharing is a good thing and the things that belong to them will not be taken away? First, if you know other children are going to come over, if there are any prized dolls or toys, remove these. In fact, if you find a sale on rag dolls or inexpensive toys either at a store or garage sale, buy several that can used just for company. This will eliminate the threat when you first start teaching your child about sharing. This is a great option for younger children still too small to comprehend.
For children around three to four, you can start teaching them that sharing is a positive thing. As adults, we know that life is full of compromises so it is important to instill these values in our children. In this instance, when you know other children are coming over, sit down with your child and tell them that they will have some friends over and they need to choose several toys that they would like to share.
By allowing children to make choices, they feel as though they have some control over the situation, which helps them become more willing to share. Help them go through their toys and pick out five or six specific things that they are comfortable having other children play with. As your child gets a little older, you can give encouragement to bring more of their favorite toys out. This is a gradual process requiring a lot of patience.
This tip will teach your child that sharing is a good thing. Just keep guiding them in the right direction and by the time they reach six or seven, they will be great at sharing. You have instilled in your child a sense of confidence. They now understand that they will lose their possessions, only share them.